The final day of the summer transfer window brought several surprises, perhaps none bigger than the move for Italian forward Mario Balotelli.
The fact that he would be leaving Liverpool was certainly no shock, as manager Jurgen Klopp was vocal in his decision to let Mario Balotelli move on this summer.
Recent interviews with Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola paint a slightly different picture, but the 26-year old striker was ready for a new setting.
Now with OGC Nice in France’s Ligue 1, Balotelli has a chance to recapture the form that saw him become one of the most promising young footballers in Europe.
Super Mario’s quality and skill on the ball were never in question, but his attitude and behaviour on and off the pitch often were the cause of many issues within his club teams.
We look at each of his former squads, what caused the relationship to go south and what can be learned moving forward.
Under the guidance of manager Roberto Mancini, a young Balotelli began to make his mark on European football.
Balotelli’s three seasons in Serie A with the Nerazzurri saw him score 28 goals across all competitions and begin his Italian national team career.
But Mancini’s move to Manchester City, clashes with Jose Mourinho and tense interactions with the Inter fanbase soured his last season there in 2010.
What Nice and manager Lucien Favre can take from Balotelli’s time with Inter is the importance of trust between the player and management.
The firm bond between Mario and Mancini was essential to success, and the rapid change at the top ultimately hurt his chances to continue with the club.
Mancini’s recent return to Inter sparked rumours of Balotelli’s possible transfer, but any transfer deal was squashed with the appointment of new manager Frank de Boer.
MANCHESTER CITY (ENGLAND)
Why Always Me?
The height of Balotelli’s crazy antics and wild behaviour took place during his time at the Etihad Stadium with Manchester City.
His former boss Roberto Mancini brought the young forward in for a fresh start, and Balotelli scored 20 Premier League goals during his three seasons with City.
A poor disciplinary record and eventual falling out with Mancini led to his transfer to AC Milan in 2013.
His time in England with City appeared undone by immaturity and anger, as Balotelli seemed intent on confrontation.
While he may not have the same type of attitude now, his tendency to get riled up on and off the pitch is certainly something that will be discussed with Nice management.
AC MILAN (ITLAY)
Balotelli’s transfer back to Serie A with AC Milan seemed like perfect timing for all involved.
The Rossoneri signed the forward to a lucrative four and half year deal in January of 2013 and saw immediate dividends, as Balo scored 12 goals in his first 13 matches.
However, the club’s poor form, racial abuse from rival supporters and changes in ownership saw a combination that would eventually lead to his exit.
Balotelli’s time with Milan highlights the need for club stability, which will certainly be an objective for Nice moving forward.
A transfer fee of 16 million pounds and the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona saw Liverpool bring Balotelli back to the English Premier League in the summer of 2014.
A disappointing campaign followed, featuring only one league goal.
A loan last season back to AC Milan saw the exactly same output, as it was evident Balotelli needed a fresh start.
His time in Merseyside showed how organisations cannot force something that is not working properly.
Mario Balotelli and Nice will ultimately succeed through cooperation, communication, and strategy. If this can take place, both he and the club will be able to reach new heights.
If not, Balo may have finally run out of chances to get back to the pinnacle of Europe.